Beijing will now allow those Indians to return to China who have been stuck India due to strict visa restrictions implemented by the neighbouring country due to the coronavirus disease.

The Chinese Embassy in India on Monday updated its policy to accept visa applications of foreign nationals and their family members who want to go to China to resume work. Beijing is also processing requests of thousands of Indian students studying in Chinese universities who wish to resume their physical classes, reported PTI.

China follows a strict “zero-Covid-19” policy to control the spread of the coronavirus disease and has banned foreign students from entering the country since the pandemic broke out in December 2019. More than 20,000 Indian students, enrolled in Chinese universities, are stranded in India for over two years and are currently studying through online classes.

China was the only country to have banned the entry of foreign students, except those from South Korea. However, in recent months, it began allowing students from countries such as Pakistan, Thailand, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka to return.

Since February, Indian students have been campaigning and demanding that they be allowed to return to Chinese universities. They have repeatedly urged the Indian government to take up the matter with China.

In April, China had said it will allow Indian students to return to the country based on their needs.

The decision came after India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on March 25, the Indian embassy had said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian that his government has shared with India the procedures and experience of students of other countries returning to China. “All that remains to be done is for the Indian side to provide the list of students who really need to come back to China,” he had said.

New Delhi had said it was preparing a list to share with Beijing and asked those who want to go back to fill up a form by May 8.

The Indian embassy had said after it has collected the information, it would ask the Chinese side to verify the list and inform whether the students can return.

While China has announced its plans to opening visa services to Indians, it is yet to take a decision on resuming flight operations between the two countries. Currently, only diplomats between the two countries are allowed to travel.